Lesson 1385 – Hospice – a list for the caregiver



A few days ago I made a list of things that would help and/or be useful to someone who is in a residential hospice. Now I’d like to look at a list for those giving care. I know that my situation was different, most people never stay longer than 2 weeks, but as you know my mother lasted 8 weeks at hospice before she died.

That was 8 weeks of me traveling down to stay with her four days out of the week (and there was one period where I was there for 9 days straight because I had spring break.)

I am forever glad that I was able to do this, but it took its toll on my body. You know when on the airplane they tell you to put your oxygen on first telling you that if you are in charge of someone, you can’t take care of them if you don’t take care of yourself – (and then every nurse repeats this story to you nearly every day at hospice?)

It’s true.

While with my mother, I sat for hours and hours and when it was time to eat, I would grab a quick lunch (which usually meant a sandwich and fries) and return to my sitting. At night I’d return to my hotel and well, you can probably figure out what I did – absolutely nothing. A day at hospice doesn’t exactly psych you up for a vigorous workout in the evening.

I gained weight (a lot) and my body turned to sludge.

This is what happens to anyone who is in the caregiving position. It doesn’t have to be hospice; it could be a kid with a broken leg. The very same principals apply. I’ve thought about this and come up with these items which would have helped or did help me during my time with my mother. I’ll be keeping this list handy for the future.

A fitbit – although I have one, during the time my mom was in hospice it wasn’t working properly. I have an Alta and if I haven’t walked at least 250 steps in one hour, it buzzes to remind me to get up. That kind of “annoyance” would have been helpful. Also if I had seen, for example, that I had only walked 1,345 (true) steps for the day, I would have added in a few extra walks somewhere.

An approach to meals – when you eat a “quick lunch” you usually don’t eat terribly healthy food. I should have complied a list of local restaurants where salads were available or where you could go to a salad bar and just get what you wanted.  If there ever is a next time, I’m going to do my research.

Water – I didn’t drink enough water when I was by my mother’s side. Why would I? Water makes you pee and when the rest room is on the first floor, it takes you away from the person you are there for. So I didn’t drink water during the day. And then I didn’t drink water in the evening either (who wants to be up all night going to the bathroom) hence my body turned to sludge. I wish I had brought a large water bottle and made myself drink one refill in the morning, afternoon and evening.

Motrin P.M. – sleeping in a hotel is touch-and-go for me, sometimes Motrin P.M. is just what the doctor ordered.

Fruit – very few restaurants include fruit. I should have gone to the grocery store and gotten a few oranges, apples, and bananas. It wasn’t until the last few weeks that I was in a hotel that offered breakfast and they had *some* fruit available.

Me-time – after my mother had had lunch and she was settled, I left for an hour or two to get my lunch and do some errands. I felt guilty about this (what if she needs me) until a nurse told me that my mother always took a nap when I was gone because she didn’t want to nap when I was there. Some time away is good for everyone.

Chapstick and lotion – see the “didn’t drink water” section, boy, my lips and skin got dry.

Comfortable clothing – when you sit all day, you don’t want anything digging into you. Comfortable clothes it was.

A pocket token – Not a Catholic but I kept a St. Christopher token in my pocket to remind me that we were all on a journey. Every time I reached in my pocket, I felt the coin and was grounded.

A journal and pen – I took lots of notes and wrote down many ideas during my time with my mother. Some things I wanted to remember and some I wanted to pass on (like this list.)

Phone and charger – if you really want to feel cut off from the rest of the world, leave your phone in your car (which I did on one very important occasion) otherwise have your phone and charger with you at all times.

Book – forget a book, I thought I’d get through dozens of them and ended up not finishing one. My mind was toast. A magazine with pretty pictures worked better.





Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

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Filed under Inspiration, Personal, Points to ponder, The Family

2 responses to “Lesson 1385 – Hospice – a list for the caregiver

  1. M-E Jinno

    Thank you for this list Wendy. I am a full time care giver for my husband and these are exactly the things needed whether under hospice or not. I often forget to drink during the day and drink all evening. I take myself away from the situation by reading a quick -e-book, No time to go select a Library book and maybe no time to return it on time. I am at home most of the time but try to take DH on little trips in the car. Not much tolerance for riding long. Always take him to the grocery store as he can’t remember what he wants. I often buy duplicates as I am making quick meals between my PT for stress related issues. I need to pray and relax more. I kick him out of the recliner in the afternoon, put my feet up to relax my legs from all the standing and running for every little thing that he can’t remember to do or function w/o (snacks). I am glad that your mother’s time was relatively short. I took care of MIL for over 20 years and DH could be multiples more. I am not complaining just sharing that you got the list right. I have to get over the idea that I might be selfish if I put me first sometimes. Much Easier to say than do all these things; as you noticed in hind sight. God Bless you for all your efforts with your Mother.

    On Wed, May 18, 2016 at 9:27 AM, Lessons Learned from the Flock wrote:

    > Wendy Thomas posted: ” A few days ago I made a list of things that would > help and/or be useful to someone who is in a residential hospice. Now I’d > like to look at a list for those giving care. I know that my situation was > different, most people never stay longer t” >

  2. pegthomas

    Thanks so much Wendy for all you did. It sounds like a marathon. All this is great advice.



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